Leeds Rhinos: Konrad Hurrell relishing chance to play with Kallum Watkins
THE SPOTLIGHT will be on both Leeds Rhinos' centres when Castleford Tigers visit Emerald Headingley on Sunday.
Tongan powerhouse Konrad Hurrell is set to make his first appearance for Leeds in a testimonial game for the club’s other star three-quarter Kallum Watkins.
Hurrell played against Watkins for Tonga in a 2017 World Cup semi-final and admitted he would much rather have the England ace as a team-mate.
Watkins is hoping to make his comeback from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered against Castleford last May and Hurrell described him as “a star player and probably the best player here at the club too”.
“Just to be in the same team with him is exciting,” said the marquee recruit.
“Obviously he had tough luck last year when he did his acl, but it is good to see him back.
“He has been doing his re-hab and he has been training well for the last month and it is good to see him running around and being at his best again.
“I am looking forward to seeing him on the field and getting to play with him and be part of his testimonial game.”
Hurrell arrived in Leeds in November and was due to play in the Boxing-Day game against Wakefield Trinity, but a slight hamstring issue meant he watched that one from the stands.
The ex-Gold Coast Titans star was among the crowd when Rhinos won 60-0 at Doncaster last week – in a game which did not feature coach Dave Furner’s first-choice team – and is itching to get into action at last.
“I tweaked my hammy a little bit and they didn’t want to risk it,” he said of his Boxing-Day disappointment.
“It is a long season and I don’t want to go into it thinking I’m not 100 per cent, only play five minutes and make it worse.
“I am fully fit now and I am looking forward to Sunday.”
He added: “I was there on Boxing Day and it was only a trial game, but it was packed and everyone was getting involved.
“I want a taste of that and it is an important game to prepare us for going into the first round.
“The last two trial games, we had a good win against Wakefield and it was good against Doncaster last week too.
“It was a high score and to keep them to nil was good so we’re looking forward to this week.”
Hurrell, 27, was born in Tonga and had five seasons in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors before moving to Gold Coast in 2016.
He also has nine Test appearances to his name and, if he takes to Super League, could become one of the competition’s most exciting and devastating attacking forces. He admitted he isn’t certain what to expect once the real business starts away to Warrington Wolves in 15 days’ time.
But settling in at Rhinos has not been a problem for the overseas three-quarter.
“I feel like I am used to the weather now,” he said. “It’s very cold, but I think my body has adjusted to it now and the difference from back home to the weather here.
“You just have to buy into it because I really like it here. The club have looked after me too so I’m enjoying it.”